MANGA MONDAY: Ten Count 1 – 3

Today’s #MangaMonday is coming a bit late due to a minor technical issue with my hydro, but better late than never!

Since I was horribly sick last week, I didn’t have much energy for reading, however I managed to catch up this weekend by reading the first three volumes of Takarai Rihito’s yaoi series, Ten Count. Takarai’s art is so gorgeous, that is what initially drew me to the series but I also can’t help but be intrigued when I find manga that’s shrinkwrapped.

Now, I should mention here that this is not a “boy love” manga. This is 100% NSFW and is rated for Mature Adults with explicit content. I won’t go into much detail about that aspect of the manga, but please understand that minors shouldn’t read this series.

Ten Count follows Shirotani, a corporate secretary, and Kurose, a mental health counsellor, as the two work together to help Shirotani with his OCD and symptomatic germaphobia. However, as the two see each other more and more, their professional relationship begins to turn into something more and neither of them is sure if that’s something they can handle – but for very different reasons.

I like the way the relationship starts in this series, and I do like how in the first volume Kurose isn’t pushy but rather very understanding. Volumes two and three got a little more… intense… I still really enjoyed the next two volumes, however, the explicit scenes felt actually pushy to me. For a yaoi manga, that’s nothing new but I guess I was expecting a slower burn for this series. Regardless of what I was expecting, Takarai is a wonderful artist and author and at the end of each volume she mentions how she is building a more Dom/Sub relationship between Shirotani and Kurose so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

I give these first three volumes an average of 4 out of five stars. And with that dirty cliffhanger at the end of volume three, I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the rest of the series.

REVIEW: The Great Pretender

Having previously read Susannah Cahalan’s memoir, Brain on Fire, I was so excited to hear that she was writing a new book about the mental health system in America.

The Great Pretender is the unravelling of the paper written by David Rosenhan titled “On Being Sane in Insane Places” and examining how it was influenced by as well as influencing in regards to the treatment of people living with mental illness. It examined the case of people posing as patients to “infiltrate” the broken system and prove the point of misdiagnosis as well as the dismissal of those who receive those diagnoses. Winding through history and even looking at the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and the modern method of Structured Clinical Interview for DSM (SCID) diagnosis.

Reading Cahalan’s previous book, I was familiar with her own experiences with misdiagnosis which I do feel was a key element in her ability to capture all of the elements of this narrative. My own experiences also gave me intense respect for those involved in the study and even for people that continue to speak out on behalf of those who are victims of the broken system that passes itself off as health care for the mentally ill.

I also found the final few chapters regarding fraudulent research and results in scientific papers to be fascinating. Tackling the disproven research from Freud all the way to the Standford Prison Experiment (which was a weird obsession I had in high school and will always find fascinating), it talked about not only creating fictitious results for the sake of being published but also how papers should really be taken with a grain of salt because not many of them age and achieve the same results when replicated.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, psychiatry, history, or even mental health in general. Whether it’s your major or you’re simply curious, Cahalan’s writing style is very accessible and attention-grabbing. Once again, Susannah Cahalan has knocked this one out of the park and I look forward to any and all future books she comes out with.

MANGA MONDAY: Full Moon「complete series review」

This February, I’m planning on exclusively romance manga for my #MangaMonday posts and I thought, what better way to start off this theme than to post about the series that started my obsession.

Full Moon by Tanemura Arina was the first every manga I read start to finish. I was 12 when I first borrowed it from a friend at summer camp and the weeb days began. The series follows Mitsuki, a young girl with a tumour in her throat that keeps her from her dreams of being a pop star. When two shinigami (gods of death) named Meroko and Takuto come to her and let her know she only has one year left, she convinces them to let her live her dream and transform her into a healthy 17-year-old singer so she has the chance.

Image result for takuto kira
Takuto and Mitsuki are legit the cutest ever.

Full Moon is a beautiful story about love and passion and the things we are willing to do to make the world a happier place. Mitsuki is a sweet, innocent, caring little girl who only wants love and happiness but is willing to really work for it. And let’s be real, Takuto was the cutest manga boy I’d ever seen in my life at the time when I was reading and re-reading this series over and over again.

The elements of loss are also vital to this series and Tanemura captures the pain and the grief so beautifully as Mitsuki struggles with her own looming death on the horizon of her success as a pop star. Throw some of the most gorgeous, original artwork I’ve ever seen in my life, and there is nothing more to say about Full Moon.

The series originally ran from 2005 to 2006 and got a really lame anime adaptation (I, personally, love it, but I’m being honest when I say it is not good) so technically it’s an old classic at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was out of print these days but if you’re able to and want a sappy love story that will have you sobbing for the entirety of the last volume, I implore you to find it and read it and then email me immediately to yell about it.

2020 Monthly Wrap-Up: January

January 2020 hasn’t been especially kind to me in terms of my personal life (or professional if I’m being entirely honest) but what I will say is that I’ve read some damn good books.

While my first read of the year – Infinity Son by Adam Silvera – was a bit of a bust, the majority of the other books I read were more wonderful than not. I’ve also been feeling rather proud of my resolution to stop reading books I’m not into and it’s such a weight off of my shoulders to not be so stressed out about trying to finish books I’m bored by.

The complete list of books I’ve reviewed this year is a nice one, with nine books finished in total!

  1. Jujutsu Kaisen #1 by Akutami Gege
  2. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
  3. No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu
  4. No Longer Human by Dazai Osamu and Ito Junji
  5. Saint Young Men #1 by Nakamura Hikaru
  6. Docile by K.M. Szpara
  7. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

The other two books I read I didn’t end up writing full reviews for (and I had started them before the new year) but they were also fun.

  • Psychopathia Sexualis: 238 Case Histories by Richard von Krafft-Ebing

This book isn’t really the kind of book you end up “reviewing”. It is a very dated collection of case studies from 1886 that focused on mental illness and how it’s related to sexual urges, delinquency, and crimes. Given how dated it is, the part I found the most interesting was looking at how mental illness terms have changed over time and the strange excuses people came up to “explain” those suffering from mental health problems. Not all of the cases were explicit and some of them were even kind of funny. It was definitely an interesting read.

  • Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief by Maurice LeBlanc

A good friend of mine got me into the Lupin the Third anime series and was telling me all about the original novels. I honestly went in with low expectations, thinking it would be like the dryer of the Sherlock Holmes books, but I was definitely wrong. I had a blast reading the shorts and they were all hilarious in one way or another. Lupin is such a dick and the way he just saunters around was so entertaining. It was a lot of fun.

All in all, I think it’s been a successful January and I’m looking forward to all the other books I’ll get to in February! Stay tuned for my reading list which I’ll be finalizing tomorrow!

 

REVIEW: The Test

There are very few companies that I have complete and utter faith in, but one of the companies lucky enough to have my trust is Tor Books. The novellas this publisher puts out are always so original, so out there, and so entirely amazing. I’ve honestly yet to read one that I haven’t liked.

Wanting something quick to read this week, I picked up my copy of The Test by Sylvain Neuvel. It is an understatement to say I was not prepared for it. The novella tackles a citizenship test in the not-so-distant future of England. Idir is the one taking the test on behalf of his whole family, saving his wife and his children the pressures of it, and keeping their chances high (only one in three people actually pass this test). But Idir may have signing on for more than he expected when the test goes from questions about football to a choice of life and death.

Not only is this novella very timely given the world’s political climate being more and more radicalized in terms of xenophobic propaganda and hate breeding propaganda, but it is so wild of a ride, it puts you right there in the room with Idir as he is forced to choose who lives and who dies. Reading it gave me the same emotional confusion as the film adaptation of the Stanford Prison Experiment did. It is raw and intense, pulling biases and aggressions towards anyone who is “other” to society that one might not even think of right away. It’s more than a story about racism and the way it unfolds so quickly makes for some serious edge-of-your-seat reading.

This is my first time reading Sylvain Neuvel’s work and damn do I look forward to reading more of his work. As uncomfortable as I felt at times while whipping through this novella, it was so strong and powerful that I hope to hear more of Neuvel’s voice in his other works.

MANGA MONDAY: Naruto 1-4

For today’s #MangaMonday, I wanted to do a highlight of an old classic. Of the Big Three manga titles, Naruto is my favourite and I figured it deserved to be talked about.

Volumes 1-4 of Naruto cover the first arc of the series in which we meet Naruto, his teammates, and follow them on their first serious mission as ninja.

For those not familiar with the series, it follows titular character, Uzumaki Naruto, on his dreams to become the best ninja in his village despite how much despise there is for him from the other villagers. Unbeknownst to Naruto (until the information is betrayed by a rogue ninja out for himself), he is actually the vessel for the world-killing demon, the nine-tailed fox.

Naruto doesn’t let this information drag him down as he proves himself enough to become a genin (a junior-ranking ninja) and becomes a member of Team 7, made up of himself, Uchiha Sasuke, and Haruno Sakura, and lead by Hatake Kakashi. Together, the four of them train together and are eventually given a mission escorting a builder back to his home country in the waves. But it would seem that the mission may be more than they bargained for when it comes out that their client lies about the seriousness of his request for protection.

The first arc is so much fun as we learn little bits about each of the members of Team 7. Naruto wants to be the best. Sasuke wants revenge on the person who slaughtered his family. Sakura…well she wants to date Sasuke but I promise she gets better. The bad guys of the arc, Zabuto and Haku, are incredible and I still wish we had gotten more of their stories or even a one-shot filler chapter with more of them. Cruel, deadly, and skilled, the both of them push Team 7 to their limits to show them the real uses of ninja skills and the meaning of survival.

I’ve read Naruto so many times is not even funny, but it never fails to steal my heart. I grew up with Naruto the same way I grew up with Harry Potter, being able to watch both characters grow in age and abilities as I did. The heart that is in this manga is something that I honestly don’t see much any more in any manga. There’s a reason that even at over 20-years-old, Kishimoto Masashi’s Naruto is still well renowned as one of the best manga series of all times. I will always love this series and look forward to re-reading the second arc (and gross crying over it as always).

MANGA MONDAY: Saint Young Men

For today’s #MangaMonday I chose a re-released old classic that is so full of joy, you can’t help but smile while reading it.

Saint Young Men by Nakamura Hikaru is the story of Jesus and Buddha as roommates in Tokyo while they take a vacation from their godly duties to explore Earth. Each chapter is a snippet of the adventures they go on together and the hilarious mishaps two gods find themselves getting into while trying to function as regular humans.

I remember loving this series in high school because I thought the concept alone was hilarious. I saw snippets of the anime and laughed when I heard about the trailer for a live action film just a year or two ago. For anyone concerned about the religious content, I am not a religious person in the least but I can respect those who are and I feel Nakamura was sure to be respectful when putting out this series. The jokes are hilarious but never distasteful, even when addressing the Crucifixion or Buddha’s death.

This manga is definitely a feel-good, slice-of-life comedy that makes the perfect read for this time of year when keeping upbeat can be difficult. If you’re looking for a bit of fun with wonderful artwork and a loveable character duo, I highly recommend picking up the newest edition of Saint Young Men.